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Florida's Meyer rips reporter in defense of player

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — With a stern look and some finger pointing, Florida coach Urban Meyer had harsh words for a reporter following spring practice Wednesday.

Meyer, speaking for the first time in a week, confronted an Orlando Sentinel reporter and defended receiver Deonte Thompson.

It was unclear why Meyer took issue with the Sentinel's story.

Reporter Jeremy Fowler quoted Thompson as referring to John Brantley as "a real quarterback," in comparison to Tim Tebow.

The exchange was caught on video, captured by a photographer and witnessed by a dozen or more people — including several fans leaving spring practice.

"You'll be out of practice — you understand that? — if you do that again," Meyer told the reporter. "I told you five years ago: Don't mess with our players. Don't do it. You did it. You do it one more time and the Orlando Sentinel's not welcome here ever again. Is that clear? It's yes or no."

Meyer was reacting to a story posted on the Sentinel's Web site following Monday's practice. Thompson was asked what the biggest difference was between Tebow and Brantley.

"You never know with Tim," Thompson said. "He can bolt. You'll think he's running, but then he'll just come up and pass it to you. You just have to be ready at all times. With Brantley, everything's with rhythm, time. Like, you know what I mean, a real quarterback."

Thompson was embarrassed by the remark and the attention it got, mostly because he likes Tebow and never wanted to say anything negative about him.

Meyer, who has praised Thompson for being a good student, a hard worker and a player who has not gotten into any trouble, eventually got word of Thompson's distress and relayed his concern to school officials. The school responded by canceling post-practice interviews Wednesday.

But as reporters were hanging around following the session, Meyer walked over to the group and began the exchange with Fowler.

"You're a bad guy, man. You're a bad guy," Meyer said. "If that was my son, we'd be going at it right now."

Meyer turned and walked away, then met his daughter on the practice field and pointed back at the reporter. He also avoided reporters by leaving through another exit.

Team spokesman Steve McClain declined comment.